“Molding” Some Maps

Yellow_slime_moldI first read about slime mold awhile back and it fascinated me with its talents. So, when Answers in Genesis came out with an article about it, I figured it only the best to share it with you.

We usually think of mold as a nuisance that crops up in all sorts of inconvenient places, like week-old bread. Yet God created mold to serve a crucial role in His world: to seek out and consume decaying matter.

Consider the amazing “seek-and-consume” ability of one common mold, Physarum polycephalum, found in the woods. You may have seen its red-orange-yellow color on a fallen tree or mulch pile.

This mold sometimes appears almost overnight. It consists of a group of tiny, single-celled amoebae, which have both plant and animal characteristics. Also called slime molds or social amoebas, they are very different from the mold found on old bread.

The variety that eats decaying wood seeks food by sending out thin strands in various directions. When a nutrient is located, tendrils with the shortest and most efficient path thicken, while other unsuccessful branches pull back.

Scientists wanted to test just how efficient this single-celled, mindless mold is at hunting bits of decaying wood, and they were amazed by what they found. Researchers had found that wood mold can successfully navigate a maze from one food source to another. To test the limits of their foraging ability, Japanese and British researchers created another test.

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Evolving Bacteria?

chromosome

The idea of bacteria evolving to protect themselves from antibiotics has been brought to my attention multiple times. Sometimes I have been challenged to answer the “unquestionable facts” of the situation while others some have simply asked to know some answers. Now is the time to find some answers.

For millennium, bacterium has affected the lives of humans, animals and plants alike. Throughout these ages, this bacterium has supposedly “evolved” new ways to take care of things that would hurt or kill them. This kind of discovery, of course, has covered the world and is taught nearly anywhere you find information about evolution, bacteria or even things like antibiotics.

However, the story being told is not the entire story.

E Coli. is a highly dangerous disease that has killed many. Because it is so dangerous, this bacteria, among others, has been attacked by humans from all sides. Antibiotics being the most popular.

For awhile, the antibiotics worked and the bacteria died. No more sickness! Right? Wrong. Eventually, the bacteria stopped dying. Had the antibiotics been polluted or changed? No, they were exactly the same. So, if the antibiotics didn’t change, the bacteria must have! And, too many, it appeared that it did.

The bacteria now had a way to fight off the antibiotics that it could not beat before. It looked like evolution in action. Something had changed from a complete loser to a bully beating up all the antibiotics on his block. What had happened?

A bacterium is a very complex cell. Although it is teeny tiny, it is made up of trillions of objects that have to work perfectly for it to live. However, it so happens, those bacteria can easily “change”. He can do this by taking DNA from other cells or using some special tool he usually hides away. When the bacteria started beating the antibiotics, this is exactly what he did.

See, when an object, like bacteria, gets attacked, it must find a way to protect itself or die. Since it obviously doesn’t want to die, the bacteria must find a way to protect itself. And since the bacteria can only draw from his own armory and the occasional one around him, he must use his own defensive tools the best he can.

One of bacteria’s defensive tools is a gene called a citT gene. This gene allows for citrate to be made. This citrate, in turn, is like a shield for the bacteria; it protects it from harm.

So, the bacteria did not evolve a new function or evolve new information. The gene was always there in his body, he just needed to know when to use it and how.

DNA Replication

DNA_replication_split.svg

What does polymerase, DNA and helicase have in common with zippers? Not nearly the same structure but very the same action.

Every living thing is made up of, or is, cells. In this cell is DNA. As you well know, DNA is the tiniest blueprint of whatever creature that is made up of cells. However, cells need to reproduce in order to make the creature grow or maintain lose of dying cells.

But, in order for a cell to reproduce it must make an exact copy of its DNA. Introducing the polymerase and helicase.

When a DNA strand need to duplicate itself with accuracy and speed, it calls on the help of many enzymes. Some of these we will briefly mention but, for now, we shall stick with the two main enzymes: DNA helicase and DNA polymerase.

So, the DNA strand is ready to be duplicated. What is the first step? The helicase enzyme needs to unwind the DNA strand from its double helix structure and the break the connections between the adenine and thymine nucleotides and the guanine and cytosine nucleotides. This unwinding will cause the end of the DNA strand to collect a lot of pressure and would cause the helicase to stop of not relived. To fix this problem, a enzyme called DNA Gyrase, will temporarily break the end of a DNA strand. This relieves the pressure and allows the helicase enzyme to continue unhindered.

Now, once the DNA strand has been “unzipped”, the DNA polymerase enzyme has to come behind the helicase and start filling in the proper nucleotides. Adenine goes with thymine and vice versa, while guanine goes with cytosine and vice versa. This enzyme can do this job at some incredible speeds. Some polymerase enzymes have been recorded to insert 749 nucleotides per second! That is incredibly fast!

However, when something can insert something so fast, you would think it would make a mistake very often. I mean, if you had a 33% percent chance of getting something right, while doing 749 of those same chances, you would think you would get something wrong! But, the polymerase is not like that.

It is said that a polymerase enzyme only makes a single mistake while getting more then 100,000,000 nucleotides inserted! That would mean the polymerase could insert 749 nucleotides onto a single DNA strand for 37 hours and just begin to make a single mistake. I’d like to see you do that!

Even when the polymerase makes a mistake, it can quickly go over, find the mistake and fix it.

Some of you may be wondering why I have been writing so much about all these tiny details. Well, let me tell you why I feel so compelled and awed to share this information with you. So many people do not see that God designed this world. When we observing something so amazing as the polymerase and helicase enzymes, I feel like I have just seen a bit of God’s love and care for we un-deserving humans, and I love seeing it!

 

DNA Wrapping

histones1

When I started to study microbiology I mainly kept with the basics. I told everyone about bacteria and gave them a short introduction into the study of bacteria. This time, while learning a lot about microbiology in my school and extra-curricula stuff, I learned about the amazing “packaging” of DNA.

A DNA strand, when unpacked, can stretch to about five feet, 10 inches. How, then, does that DNA strand fit into inside a nucleus, inside a cell, inside the body? How can the nearly six feet of DNA fit into a cell that is .00023622 inches in diameter? God has solved the problem.

When a strand of DNA is inside a nuclear envelope inside the cell, it is coiled up in the double helix we all know. But, when the cell begins mitosis or meiosis, the DNA starts to undergo a dramatic change. histones

Proteins, called histones, connect themselves to the DNA. Seven more histones join the first one and form a circle where the DNA can be completely wrapped around. When the six-foot DNA strand is wrapped around the many histones it begins to arrange itself into a pattern, as can be seen on the picture to the right (histones are green and DNA is blue).

Once the DNA and histones wrap up in this way, the cell uses another protein that does a similar job as the histone did. But, this protein is bigger and wraps up the histone-wrapped DNA itself. This compress the length of the DNA even more.

When the other protein has done its job it then starts to wrap around into a spiral. The spiral then gets so compressed that the chromatin can be distinguished. Next comes the chromosome itself.

Well, there you have it, the wonderful life of packaging DNA. First we have the histones, then the other protein and then spiraling compression, the chromatin and then the chromosome. It may all seem simple but this genius requires a Maker! I have no idea how someone cannot see that.

All in all, the amazing packaging of DNA cause the DNA strand to shrink by 40,000 times!